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Welcome to the final printed supplement of Synchronicity.This ‘Alternative Issue’ looks at problems in a black and white world. With ideas of drugs, housing, education and finance all being challenged as people are now looking deeper for alternative solutions. To find the full length versions of these pieces please visit our website, we will continue to be an online presence and our next issue will be the ‘Planet Issue’ Find us at: Mark A. Silberstein Editor of Synchronicity Magazine.

Synchronicity page designers: Brooke Streatfield and Ya Rohey Secka

Country In Focus What do you think about the recent legalisation of Marijuana laws in the US? Mary Stevens, 21, North Carolina - Journalism student from University of North Carolina here for an exchange term on the City Journalism course. “I personally think that it can be useful for medical reasons and is less dangerous than cigarette smoking; it can be fun as well sometimes. I believe that the US have taken a step in the right direction when it comes to legalising this drug, there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to gun laws and harder drugs, it’s good to see that this has been noticed and progress is being made. With people saying that it might get out of hand, at first it might but I believe people overuse it in general so a change in the law isn’t going to make that much of a difference. In North Carolina where I’m from it is kept behind closed doors and not spoken about much, there is obviously the pothead stereotype but not spoken about as freely as in other states. Maybe one day all states may legalise it but I think with the different belief’s, ideologies and political affiliations that each state has it will be hard to completely legalise the drug all over the US. It’s not yet legal in North Carolina and I don’t think it will be any time soon, it’s a southern state which means we are more religious and conservative, I don’t think the law will be passed even though it already goes on a lot in some areas. I read that 58% of Americans say they think the drug should be legalised which I think is surprising really, but I would be interested to see the alignment of the views state by state. I would like to see this question being put up to a national vote as some people say yes in conversation when asked about it but wouldn’t have the guts to stand up and vote for it in a poll.” By Brooke Streatfield

Washington, where the new Marijuanan laws were forged. Photos: Mary Stevens

Viewpoint Occupy: Where are they now? It’s a year since Occupy left the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral but many of the group continue to campaign. George Barda was a recognisable face of Occupy London, with his long dark hair and wiry beard he GeorgeBardaofOccupy. PhotoByAlexAnderson: often appeared in the news. “I’m a bit of a media whore,” he confesses. After the camp a new campaign was the occupation of Friern Barnet Library in North London. The library was closed by Barnet Council as a result of budget cuts. George, with several other activists, began an occupation of the library in September re-opening it to the public. “Quite a lot of people identified with what

we were doing outside St Paul’s, but even more so with the library. We were in an area where the library was one of the only public buildings left, so it was quite an important part of the community.” says George.There was overwhelming support for the library to be re-opened and more than 10,000 books were donated before it was handed back to the local community and officially opened to the public again earlier this month. “When we were outside St Paul’s there was so much media attention. When you focus on the story of Occupy, the more it becomes about the cathedral rather than banks and corporations and their links with central government, what Occupy was about.” He has now taken that passion for justice to a new campaign called Shift. “It’s like a main stream Occupy

movement,” he says, “which brings together people from all walksof life, including big business and the Occupy movement. What we want to do now is get people feeling that they can get involved.” By Alex Anderson

a a By Alex Anderson

Occupy London, St Pauls Cathedral, 2011. Photo: Delaina Haslam

Squatting faces its death blow A new campaign will try and make squatting completely illegal. In September 2012, squatting in a residential location, the act of living in a building without paying rent, was made illegal. But now the government is considering extending this to all squatting. Historically squatters were protected the Squatters’ Right Act, part of the 1977 Criminal law act which allowed people to live in a building until the legal owner turned up and request them to leave. Before then squatting had been a common occurrence, particularly in London after the WW2 bombings had left many people homeless and many homes without owners.Since London became the choice for the 2012 Olympics politicians and the police heightened their efforts to “clean up” London and stamp out squatters. This has closed down many old social centres, large squats used for meetings and in some cases the public has attacked the groups or damaged their homes. Despite these setbacks there still is a big squatting community. Myk Zetlin from the Advisory Service for Squatters highlights the situation from the squatters’ perspective: “A lot of people are squatting without knowing the law change or much about the law in general. There are people


coming from around the world all the time who still think it’s a civil matter and don’t consider the problems. This will continue for some time. We have seen the first person going to jail, someone who definitely wasn’t part of a political squatting community.” Squatting has always been a controversial issue as some chose to do it as a political protest. Squatting has had a negative image in the media in lately as many squats have created problems for the owners.But Marie (not real name), a former squatter who have also acted as legal guardian for many buildings disagree with the illegalisation as a solution: “People are not going to stop squatting, even if the councils think

“People are not going to stop squatting, even if the councils think they can change the situation”

they can change the situation by making it illegal it won’t matter. If you do not provide affordable housing for all there will always be squatters. But most of the narrative is fear mongering created by right-wing media. For every “squat from hell” there are probably a hundred that aren’t newsworthy.” By Christian Jensen

Features Islamic finance investment on the rise: But are there any jobs? University. Speakers included specialists and those working within the sector: Mohammed Amin, Harris Irfan.Bana Sharif Al-Haramain, president of the New Society said he decided to set up the Islamic finance society to raise awareness and encourage dialogue.So what does Islamic finance have to offer? Imad Ilyas, Fromlefttoright:HarrisIrfan-DirectoratEuropeanIslamicinvestmentBankandMohammedAmin master’s student of finance at - Speaker and writer on Islamic finance. Photo by: Rima Amin CBS said: “The most important of principles is that Islamic Banking Investments in Islamic finance are prohibits speculative behavior. The idea increasing globally at a rapid rate. behind this is to prevent situations of According to Ernst and Young global excessive volatility and greed which Islamic banking assets held by have led to financial meltdowns that commercial banks are set to reach we have seen in the past.” A Shari’ah US$1.8 trillion this year, up from the based banking system does not US$1.3 trillion of assets held in 2011. allow interest-based investments nor There are over 300 Shari’ah compliant does it allow investments based on financial institutions worldwide. Seeking unethical ventures – those providing to increase awareness of Islamic finance alcohol, tobacco, pork, gambling, adult the group, New Society held it’s first entertainment and conventional finance. careers event on the 19 February 2013 The Islamic system also allows for wider at Cass Business School (CBS) of City distribution aiming to maximise social

London Squat. Photo: Daniel Elias

Unlocking free education. Photo by: Mark A. Silberstein

Taught by volunteers and inclusive to all, squat schools provide an alternative to Cameron’s Big Society free schools, without cost to the taxpayer. Talia Rose, 28, who has been an English Foreign Language (EFL) teacher for the last nine years, volunteered as a facilitator in free schools in squats. She passionately exclaimed how she became, “part of a collective that did an

guru and banker, as well as barristers from top law firms and economy lecturers as well as other professionals. In September 2012, section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act decreed that anyone found to be squatting a residential building could be fined or go to prison, potentially posing a threat to the survival of these kinds of schools. Although classes taught in squats happen without allocated money and are not permanent, at the least they encourage open thinking and embrace all of the community and most importantly at the end of the day you can’t beat free education. By Mark A.Silberstein


By Rima Amin

Dive tourism threatens marine life

The origin of free schools arts free school in the building behind the Bank of Ideas.” In 2011, the Occupy movement devised the Bank of Ideas, a free school held at the disused UBS office complex near Liverpool Street station. Taught by volunteers, schools such as this are based on the idea that education should be free and that anyone could come to be educated about, amongst other things, society and the arts. The original concept of schools free in thought and without fees was devised by Catalan Anarchist Francisco Ferrer y Guardia in 1908. In 2011, 24 of the taxpayer funded government free schools were introduced as part of David Cameron’s concept of the Big Society. The Education Foundation, the UK’s education think tank, the government’s Department for Education and Cambridge Education Group, a global education service, all declined to be interviewed about them. The little information there is states that these schools are not controlled by local authorities. Teachers’ charities, education experts and religious groups can open a free school or similar just by registering with the Department for Education. By contrast, free schools in squats have no religious or state connections. Speakers have included volunteers like 34-year-old Alessio Rastani, financial

welfare (Maslahah). A system based on Shari’ah ethics also seeks to distribute wealth to poorer communities. Careers in Islamic finance may be the only option for Muslims who do not wish to work amongst commercial banks as they regard some of their practices unethical. Aisha Durvesh, master’s student of International Accounting & Finance said: “my religious preferences don’t allow me to work in conventional banks.” Harris Irfan from European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB) says the Islamic institutions are behind commercial banks due to their lack of resources, specialists and Shari’ah compliant banks. “Don’t be too idealistic about the Islamic finance industry” he advises. According to Ernst & Young’s report, improvements will be made over the next two to three years. If the changes work, the profit pool of Islamic banks has potential to rise an additional 25% by 2015.


In the last two decades, the dive tourism industry has exploded into a global giant and has become a welcome source of income for less economically developed countries. According to The Professional Association of Diving Instructors statistics, its membership numbers have increased by almost 70 per cent since 1993. Experts believe the main reason for the increase in dive tourism worldwide has been the influx of technology in recent years, bringing with it competitive flight prices and internet images of far flung shores waiting to be discovered. But recreational dive tourism is slowly sapping the life out of coral reefs worldwide. Dr Sandra Brooke, research Scholar at Florida State University Coastal and Marine Lab says: “Divers often stand on corals or touch them, or remove coral and other animals as artifacts.This is slowly damaging the ocean ecology in diving hotspots.

”A study conducted by Kolej University in Malaysia found that 56 per cent of recreational divers made contact with coral reefs and have named recreational diving as one of the factors contributing to reef and wildlife decline in the area. Similarly, The Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the world and the largest coral reef ecosystem in the world has halved in size over the last 27 years. The Australian Institute of Marine Science predicts that number is set to halve again by 2020 if irresponsible dive practice continues. Despite the negative attention dive tourism brings to areas of natural marine beauty, economic gains for countries blessed with popular dive spots outweigh the negative impact. More than $23 billion AUDs are generated per year from tourism in North Eastern Australia, making it the area’s main source of revenue. Dr Brooke says: “Tourism can cause a ot of damage from poor coastal management and the impact of recreational diving. However if done properly tourism can replace more destructive activities and be beneficial to local economies.” Although research is in its embryonic stages, experts agree that dive tourism boosts local economies and is positive, so long as tourists are educated and reefs are properly protected and maintained. By Charlotte Taylor

Arts and Culture Old walls come to life with injection of new culture Illegal street art has been plastered on the walls of London’s East End for many years. The formerly known working class district is slowly transforming into a street art Mecca. You only have to turn into a side street along Old Street to find a piece from the movement. That’s where Alternative London Founder Gary Means has set up shop. Or stop. His white graffiti covered Alternative London doubledecker bus is parked in a lock on Rivington Street, EC2. TheBangladeshigirlbyCosmoSarson,BrickLane.Photoby:YaRoheySecka Alternative London provides street art documentaries like Exit Through The Gift tours, bike tours and workshops led by Shop the culture is becoming accepted, street artists, which takes place on their and revolutionised. It’s no longer people double-decker bus. Some, like Gary, spraying ugly tags, but a range of political say that street art is simply a form of and opinionated ideas. expression, whilst critics see it as a Artworks, such as Edgar Mueller’s Lava nuisance that wastes taxpayers’ money. Burst and Cosmo Sarson’s Bangladeshi London’s councils are left to deal with Girl, have been known for bringing having to remove the majority of work communities together, countering claims that’s not commissioned, and by law that street art has no purpose. illegal. With the likes of Banksy and Gary believes the East Ends’ link with SickBoy producing thought-provoking culture and diversity is the main reason pieces, they have slowly begun to why street artists have adopted East change the public’s perception of London’s streets as their giant canvas. street art. With street artists selling He said: “Waves of immigration has really canvases in galleries for thousands, and shaken the area. [Street art helps] people

“They like it because of what it stands for”

realise the importance of social diversity and creative freedom, and that’s two things East London has.” Street artists have made thousands of pounds in displaying their work in galleries. With the growing commercialisation of street art, what does that mean for its future? Gary said: “It all depends. A lot of street artists are very protective of street art. They like it because of what it stands for, and it’d be very difficult to change that. I hope.” By Ya Rohey Secka

Palestinian Hip-Hop: A product of its environment


Out of great hardship comes great art. From the heart of a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank, a defiant voice is crying for freedom and justice. In the narrow alleyways of Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, a Palestinian Hip Hop band was born in 2007. Three young rappers who were born and raised in a refugee camp felt fed up with being voiceless and quiet. They decided to sing about their life, their struggle and about the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Their lyrics are strong and often aggressive in describing a harsh reality under occupation these three MCs are still living. Their songs are mostly in Arabic but they also sing in English and

other languages in attempt to deliver their messages to a bigger audience. In an interview via Skype with Palestine Street Band from their small studio in the Dheisheh camp, Diya Ibrahim, 22, a rapper, said that the band was formed in 2007 with the help of a grassroots centre in the camp. “At the beginning we couldn’t record our songs due to the economical situation and lack of professional equipments,” he said. Despite all the difficulties these young MCs had, they managed to record their first album and had their first concert in 2007. Diya said: “We succeeded to present ourselves as rappers and to identify hip-hop to our people in the camp as an art.” “Rap for us is an art that is no less

“Rap for us is an art that is no less important than poetry and literature”

Fromlefttoright-MohammedAzmilwithDanishrapperZaki,concertin Bethlehem. Photo by: Bahaa Milhem

important than poetry and literature,” Diya said.In a relatively conservative society, being a hip-hop singer might not be seen as a good thing. Mohammad Azmi, 22, a Pal St. rapper said: “We had different reactions after our first performance; some liked it and accepted it as a way to tackle social and political issue, where others considered it as disrespectful for the culture, which is for me a baseless claim.” “We knew since the beginning that we will face some of those problems, but we have been eager to change those people’s ideas and stereotypes,” he said. Palestine Street has released more than 50 songs and they are now working on a new album to be released next summer. By Bahaa Milhem

Synchronicity Alternative Issue  

Synchronicity Alternative Issue